Summer News!

MINISTRY: Open Arms Ministry Center

Dave and Amy Verdin are the Open Arms Ministry Center Directors.  I reached out to Dave to get an update on how the ministry is doing.

How is the Open Arms Ministry going?
Things have slowed down just a little bit since winter has finally let go. This past winter we averaged 70 guests at lunch time, and as of May we've been serving an average of 50 people per day. Many of our homeless guests have been experiencing positive improvements in life such as obtaining proper identification, having health needs met, and some have even found places to live.
All of our guests -no matter where they are in their journey- still need support and assistance as they navigate the challenges that come with homelessness and exiting homelessness. This keeps myself, Amy, and our wonderful volunteers very busy, even with the warmer weather!

How can people serve and help Open Arms this summer?
There are always opportunities to serve during our operating hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Volunteers cook and serve lunch to our guests, help our guests find a change of clothing, assemble hygiene kits, and assist the director and our guests in many other ways. It is also a great opportunity to build relationships with our homeless neighbors.

Every other Monday night we have a team come together at Open Arms to prepare ingredients that will be used throughout the week, as to make things a bit easier on our daytime volunteers when they put together lunch for the day.

We are also always accepting donations of men's clothing and shoes (new or gently used). We distribute clothing and hygiene kits every Tuesday morning and while we are able to help many guests in this way, we regularly run out of t-shirts and pants before all of our guests arrive.

Please share one story from your ministry within the last couple of months.
Our current location in the Episcopal Church of the Advent/Nuestra Senora building has been a huge blessing! It does not, however, come without challenges. We are currently situated in a much more residential area than when we were on Diversey Ave.
In recent months some neighbors who live in the immediate community have expressed some concerns with our ministry to homeless individuals, mostly relating to safety and disturbances in the neighborhood. This has given us an opportunity to share more about our mission and vision with those who are not homeless in the neighborhood.
In May, Pastor Kaitlin and a group of volunteers joined our host congregations of Episcopal Church of the Advent and Nuestra Senora in walking through the neighborhood distributing informational flyers about the homelessness ministries that all three congregations offer in the building throughout the week. Although the conversation has not been easy, this has opened up much needed dialogue between our churches, the neighborhood, the Alderman's office, and the local Police department. This also gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness of homelessness and express our deep conviction to share the love of Christ in practical ways with the most vulnerable in the community. We’ve even gained a Monday Prep Night volunteer through the neighborhood flyer distribution, and we pray that we will continue to build positive relationships with our immediate neighbors.
To learn more about the Open Arms Ministry Center, check out this link!
#IAMNEWCOM: Art Project in Logan Square

One of our church members, Kimmy Noonen, is an artist in Logan Square.  This summer she is creating a very unique art project, thisPlace, which will be on display from June 21 through July 19, 2015.  This art project is located at Corner (2912 N Milwaukee Ave) which is a storefront art gallery intended to engage the community.

Read as Kimmy describes thisPlace: As Avondale & Logan Square face complex issues of displacement and replacement,  thisPlace hopes to be a resting point where neighbors from all walks of life can begin a relationship with one another... through having permission to see how people build a home inside the gallery and through conversations, stories, and shared experiences. A place for people who share nothing but an address can come to know and be known, creating neighbors out of strangers. 
Corner art gallery has been transformed into an all-white living space. Inside, residents from Logan Square and Avondale will live, on display, for 3 day/2 night shifts for the entire month. Each person/group living in the space is asked to bring objects that make the place feel like home to them... these objects, actions, sounds, etc will act like brush strokes on the blank canvas. 
In addition to those who will call the gallery their home, there will be additional ways for residents and neighborhood friends to engage with thisPlace
Dinner Companions are people who have an investment in the communities in some way and wish to meet someone new who may share or differ in opinion about or collective future. They will share a meal with the gallery dweller one evening, on display in the gallery but privately.  
Walking Tours will be free and open to the public every Sunday at 3:00 PM during the run of the piece. Tour Guides should be residents of LS & Avondale for 8 or more years and the tours are intended to be Personal. Meaning the tour guide would share about their own experiences and memories here, things they value about the space, stuff that's not available in travel books. 
Community Evenings are 1 to 2 hour times when the space will be uninhabited and available to be used for community building activities. These activities will vary based on who proposes using the space in collaboration with thisPlace
More than anything, thisPlace is operating on the premise that observing, interacting with, and knowing people is the surest way to abolish abstract fears that keep communities from embracing and desiring the richness of diversity. I hope it will build bridges between different people groups and even be a place where hard topics can be turned over with respect for everyone involved. 
Click this link to learn more about thisPlace.

 New Community Celebrates! 
There are two celebrations we want to share with you.

1. Sarah and John Ugaste were married on May 31, 2015 in Chicago.  The couple, along with Sarah's daughter Faith, reside in Elmhurst, IL.  Pray for them as they continue to settle into married life together.  
2. Angela Zirk is finishing her last days working at New Community this month.  Angela we are SO grateful for your faithful service to our church and it's community over the last 10 years.

UPDATE:  These church newsletters will now be issued on a seasonal basis on October 1, February 1, and June 1. If you have any stories and updates you want to share with our church congregation simply reply to this email.  


Our mailing address is:
New Community Covenant Church
2804 W Belmont Ave, Ste 101
Chicago, IL 60618